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Also: The bill tentatively argues that it would ban eminent domain for private projects

The Iowa Capitol, seen on June 8, 2021, in Des Moines. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Majority Republicans in the Iowa Senate are proposing a state budget of just over $8.2 billion, they announced Tuesday.

That headline figure matches that of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ budget proposal, though the two proposals don’t add up dollar for dollar.

Senate Republicans said their budget proposal would increase new state spending by 3.5%, or $283 million. Of that new spending, more than half — $159 million — would be new funding for K-12 public education, they said.

The proposal also contains a $71 million increase in funding for mental health care, Senate Republicans said.

“As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, my goal is to craft a budget that funds Iowans priorities, and that is sustainable and accountable,” said Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge and Senate Committee Chairman. from the budget. Press release.

“Years of conservative budgeting have positioned the state to continue providing reliable increases to public safety, education and health care.”

Senator Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said the budget urges lawmakers to pass income tax cuts.

Senate Republicans have proposed a five-year phased reduction to a 3.6% fixed income tax. The proposal, if fully implemented in 2028, would cut taxes for Iowa workers by $1.9 billion and cut state revenue by $2.2 billion.

EMINENT FIELD: The ban on the use of eminent domain – the practice of government reclaiming private land for private commercial projects – passed the first stage of the legislative process, but with hesitant support.

Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, said he offered Senate File 2160 not because of the three carbon pipelines that plan to run through Iowa, but because of an “age-old respect for private property” and because “the benefits of the few should not outweigh the rights of the majority”.

“This bill solves a real problem, and if it’s not solved, it will continue to be a problem,” Taylor said.

Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center

Taylor conceded that his legislation faced a tenuous future, and the subcommittee hearing supported that sentiment.

All three lawmakers on the panel endorsed bringing the bill to the Senate Commerce Committee, but Republican Senators Mike Klimesh, R-Spillville, and Craig Williams, R-Manning, did so while expressing reservations.

In order to remain eligible for consideration for the remainder of this year’s session, the bill will need to pass the full Senate Commerce Committee by the end of this week.

REYNOLDS ALL TUITION ASSISTANCE: At a news conference she hosted at a Des Moines-area Catholic school, Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted her proposal for taxpayer-funded private school tuition assistance for select families.

Reynolds Bill, Senate Study Bill 3080, would allow public school students in K-12 to receive $5,300 in state-funded aid to be used for instruction at a private school. Funding would come from public funding per student who attends that student’s public school.

The program would be available for up to 10,000 students from families at or below 400% of the federal poverty level, or, for example, $92,120 for a family of three or $111,000 for a family of four. .

Reynolds said she believes her proposal is the right thing to do because it makes private school more accessible and affordable for any Iowa parent who wants it for their student.

“We need to make sure we give that choice to every parent, not just those who can afford it,” Reynolds said. “We need to empower parents to do what’s best for children.”

A similar Reynolds proposal passed the Senate last year, but not the House. She refined her proposal this year in hopes of getting it passed in the House as well.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Internal Study Bill 677 — to prohibit government entities from “interfering” with a person’s freedom of religious expression by treating conduct more restrictively than secular conduct — was approved, 21-0, by the House Judiciary Committee.

While there was no issue in Iowa, Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, said governors in other states have banned or restricted worship gatherings during the pandemic.

A similar bill Senate File 2170was approved Tuesday by the Senate Committee on Local Government.

SERVICE ANIMALS: A bill establishing penalties for misrepresentation regarding the use of service or service animals to avoid paying fees normally required for pets was approved, 16-5, by the Committee judiciary of the House.

Home file 2068 makes misrepresentation a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $105 to $855 and imprisonment for up to 30 days.

An amendment to make the violation a $300 civil penalty failed, but billing executive representative Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, said he would consider the change once he had time to examine it. “I appreciate where you’re going, I think,” he said.

The bill has been amended to align with Senate File 2093which, according to Lohse, would codify federal law.

The bill would allow an owner to ban a service animal if the animal poses a direct threat to the safety, health or property of another and request written documentation that the person has a disability.

Current law provides that an owner may deny a request for an exception to a pet policy if a person, who has no apparent disability or a disability known to the owner, fails to provide documentation.

HAVEN OF SAFETY: House file 2267 to expand Iowa’s Safe Haven procedure has been approved by the House Human Resources Committee.

Thanks to Iowa’s Safe Haven Law, parents or their authorized representative can leave infants 30 days or younger in a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment. The bill would raise that age to 60 days.

In June 2021, the Department of Social Services said the procedure had been used for the 48th time since the law was enacted more than 20 years ago.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, was in the Legislature when the law was approved. She estimated that more than 50 children had been saved in Iowa and thousands across the country.

Some states’ shelter programs accept infants up to age one, which the legislature may consider, Mascher said.

The Safe Haven procedure prioritizes the health and physical safety of the infant, as well as the anonymity of the parent or authorized person relinquishing custody of the child. The law was approved following a high-profile case in 2001 involving a teenage mother in eastern Iowa who killed her newborn baby at home.

Infants who are Safe Haven babies are placed with foster or adoptive families.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Volunteer Iowa is now accepting nominations for the 2022 Governor’s Volunteer Awards through April 15. The program, established in 1982, allows organizations to honor their volunteers with state-level recognition in three available categories – individual, group and length of service.

Information about the award recipient may be submitted in line at https://appengine.egov.com/apps/ia/icvs_award.

To learn more, visit Volunteer in Iowa Online.

Des Moines Gazette Office